The Barton Bellas are back, and of course they are in trouble. After winning 3 consecutive National titles for a capella, the group finds themselves thrown off their own victory tour after a wardrobe malfunction in front of the President of the United States. Mortified, things only get worse when Barden Univeristy tells the girls that they are not allowed to audition any new Bellas. The only way to get reinstated and return to their rightful place as head of the a capella world is to win at the World Championships in Copenhagen; but how to do that without more singers! Along comes Emily Junk (Hailee Steinfeld), a Freshmen at Barden, a songwriter, and the daughter of a former Bella (Katy Segal). With a legacy clause in play, Emily steps into the role of a Bella and has to come to terms with a rushed schedule, quick training process and the romantic overtures of the completely awkward magician Benji (Ben Platt). Beca is secretly working an internship with a music producer (Keegan-Michael Key) and trying to make a name for herself that will survive after graduation. Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) and newly returned college security guard Bumper (Adam DeVine) struggle to keep their secret hookups a secret, though Bumper wants more. Chloe tries to keep the group together, while this year actually needing to graduate. Throw in our favorite a capella group battles, a wicked European group called Das Sound Machine and the World Stage and you’ve got a winning mashup.
Elizabeth Banks did an incredible job directing this film. Successful sequels that live up to the quality of the first are a rarity, but somehow Pitch Perfect 2 is funnier than the first film. Banks does double duty in this film, as she also reprises her role of the incredibly sarcastic a capella announcer, Gail. She is yet again joined by the racist, sexist HR nightmare John Smith (John Michael Higgins). A few people in the theater were obviously offended by a few of his jokes, but once they caught on that he was mocking everyone the laughter picked up.
The film keeps what fans loved about the first film while also incorporating new elements that strengthen the franchise. We still get our beloved a capella battle, but now it’s in a secret underground organization run by a creepy Southern gentleman (David Cross). This is perhaps the funniest scene in the film, not just from the sheer amount of comic talent in the room (David Cross, John Hodgman, Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson and Adam DeVine) but by the strangely incredible timing of the Green Bay Packers. No, you did not read that wrong. We also get musical performances from groups other than the Bellas and Treble Makers. Das Sound Machine, the German competition, have some of the most incredible sequences throughout the film, including songs by Muse and strangely enough “The Thong Song.” Das Sound Machine is a completely worthy competitor and Beca’s failure to actually figure out a real insult to their lead girl, Kommissar (Birgitte Hjort Sørensen), makes for several hilarious back and forths. Beca’s new internship also bring serious laughs with Keegan-Michael Key as a frustrated music producer attempting to create a Snoop Dogg Christmas Album that is not just like every other celebrity Christmas album. Don’t worry, Snoop’s efforts are also included on the Pitch Perfect 2 soundtrack.
What struck me most about the film was that there was a theme that it didn’t matter your sex or race, it was your talent that led to praise or ridicule. The men in this film (John Smith excluded) are fairly respectful. Benji manages to get the Treble Makers in trouble when he interrupts the song “I Like Big Butts” with his own lyrics about chivalry and tipping the waiter at a restaurant. Jesse (Skylar Astin) continues to be the supportive and hilarious boyfriend Beca started with in the first film. Even Bumper is at heart a gentleman. Racist jokes from John Smith aside, the film also makes huge attempts to include everyone. On the world stage, we get a capella groups from India, Spain, Africa, and Russia. Back at home, the Bellas aren’t just all rich white girls. They have Flo (Chrissie Fit) from Guatemala, the strange whispers of Lily (Hana Mae Lee) and the hilarious Cynthia Rose (Ester Dean) who reminds the audience that she is “black, a lesbian and a woman.”
Pitch Perfect 2 will leave you humming, dancing and generally feeling great. There is no shortage of talent in this film and under Bank’s direction I found myself actually loving a sequel. Oh, and make sure to stay for the credits.
Pitch Perfect 2 opens Friday May 15, 2015.